Chinese President Xi Jinping straightens the ribbons of a floral tribute at the Museum of the War of Chinese People's Resistance Against Japanese Aggression in Beijing on September 3 (XINHUA)
Seventy-five years ago, the Chinese people, together with the rest of the world, won a victory against fascism. For today's generation, qualities such as patriotism, heroism and the strong will exhibited during the war remain pertinent and highly valued.
At a symposium commemorating the 75th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War on
September 3, President Xi Jinping said the great spirit of resisting aggression bred during the war is an invaluable source of inspiration, and will always motivate the Chinese people to overcome all difficulties and obstacles.
China's contribution to the World Anti-Fascist War has somehow been underestimated and even ignored by the West, Ruan Zongze, a researcher with the China Institute of International Studies, said.
China was the first country to suffer invasion by a fascist state in World War II. It was also the weakest of the principal Allied powers, which included the United Kingdom, then Soviet Union, the United States and France.
"To China, the battle on Chinese soil was existential: their country invaded, partially occupied, and suffering unspeakable horrors. To the U.S., the battle on Chinese soil was diverting Japanese forces and resources, reducing Japan's capacity to wage war against the U.S. and American interests throughout the Pacific Theater," Robert Lawrence Kuhn, a leading U.S. expert on China, told Xinhua News Agency.
Rana Mitter, Director of the China Centre at Oxford University, wrote in his book Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945 that the marathon struggle China waged was not just for its own dignity and survival, but for the good of all the Allies. Had it not been for the resistance of the Chinese, it would have been difficult for the U.S. to avenge Pearl Harbor after Japan's attack in 1941.
When China began the war of resistance, it was up against two thirds of Japan's land forces and much of the latter's naval and air forces. But it still managed to keep the Japanese forces at bay on the Oriental battlefield, which gained time for the Allies on the European battlefield to defeat Germany and Italy.
On March 12, 1942, China established an expeditionary force of nearly 100,000 people to help fight in Myanmar, then known as Burma, saving more than 7,000 British soldiers and stopping the Japanese army's advance into India. Then in 1944, Chinese troops went to Myanmar again and helped build the Ledo-Myanmar Road, from Ledo in India's northeastern state of Assam through Myanmar to Kunming, Yunnan Province in southwest China, which opened a new channel for the Allied forces to fight back.
China helped crush the fascist forces' attempt to connect the Eurasian battlefields. The Allies were fully committed to countering the Japanese army until the war in Europe ended in 1945. But the victory came at a heavy price. China suffered over 35 million military and civilian casualties during the war.
Students lay flowers at a monument during a memorial activity in Shanghai on September 3 (XINHUA)
The victory was a historic turning point at which the Chinese nation rose from severe crisis in modern times and embarked on a journey toward rejuvenation. It was also an integral part of the world's triumph over fascism. Xi said the victory, which belongs to both the Chinese and people across the world, will go down in the history of the Chinese nation as well as in the history of humanity's fight for justice. The purpose of the annual commemoration was to draw a lesson from history, look to the future, and jointly cherish and safeguard peace.
After the end of the war, the international community reached consensus to ensure world peace and avoid a repeat of the tragedy, Ruan said. Whether it was the establishment of the UN or an international system with the organization at its core, the efforts of the international community were all about upholding this consensus. It runs counter to the consensus if a country acts on its own strength to provoke disputes and seek hegemony, he added.
As for all the Asian countries that suffered from the Japanese aggression, and Japan itself, it is meaningful to keep the memory of that war as a reminder of how important it is for countries to coexist in a peaceful manner.
China and Japan are close neighbors, and maintaining peaceful and friendly relations is in accordance with the fundamental interests of the two peoples, and essential to maintaining peace and stability in Asia and the world, Xi said.
According to Ruan, currently, China continues to make contributions to safeguarding the fruits of the victory and upholding multilateralism. It has, for example, put forward new concepts such as building a community with a shared future for humanity.
These ideas are in line with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. They also serve to enrich and develop multilateralism under new circumstances and make the international order more just and equitable, he added.
The Communist Party of China (CPC) fought as a central pillar of the national effort. Since the victory won 75 years ago, significant changes have taken place in China, with the CPC rallying the Chinese and leading them on the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics.
Xi, who is also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, stressed in his speech that the Chinese will never allow any individual or any force to distort the CPC's history or separate the CPC from them.
It's the first time that China's top leader has made comprehensive remarks in the face of the recent attacks on China, especially the smear campaign against the CPC, Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations at China Foreign Affairs University, told Global Times.
The Harvard Kennedy School has conducted surveys in China for 13 years, with the findings indicating that over 93 percent of the people are satisfied with the Central Government led by the CPC.
"What is worth remembering about U.S.-China cooperation in fighting Japanese aggression in World War II is that, at the time, the interests of the U.S. and China differed, yet they still cooperated, united by a common foe," Kuhn said.
Such reflection is urgently needed again as China and the U.S., once wartime allies, are experiencing difficulties in their relations with the U.S. pursuing strategic competition against China—developments that are reshaping the world's geopolitical structure, Chen Xiaohe, a professor at the School of International Studies of Renmin University, said.
According to Kuhn, the two countries have many common foes that are still dangerous and deadly. Pandemics, climate change, poverty, inequalities and terrorism are all foes to fight against jointly.
"The burden is on us, especially the leadership in the U.S. and China, to find the right road on which both great countries and peoples can walk in peace and harmony, with honesty, dignity and mutual respect," he said.
(Print Edition Title: Remembering History's Legacy)
Copyedited by Sudeshna Sarkar
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